by Max Blenkin
When Kevin Rudd announced his departure from politics, even his most vehement opponents acknowledged the end of an era, describing him in near saint-like terms.
Coming at the end of a tumultuous day in politics on Wednesday, this was a complete surprise for almost everyone.
It shouldn’t have been.
Just under a month ago, former Labor Attorney-General Nicola Roxon delivered a scathing assessment of her former leader.
“As long as Kevin remains in parliament, irrespective of how he behaves, pollsters will run comparisons with him and any other leader,” she said in the John Button memorial lecture.
“For the good of the federal parliamentary Labor party … Kevin Rudd should leave the parliament.”
Admired by a large section of the electorate for his diverse passions and achievements, Rudd was loathed in equal measure by many of his colleagues.
It’s hard to believe many others on the Labor side weren’t really thinking much the same.
Roxon said removing Rudd from the prime ministership in 2010, even before the end of his first term, was an act of political bastardry.
But she said it was only possible “because Kevin had been such a bastard himself”.
Admired by a large section of the electorate for his diverse passions and achievements, Rudd was loathed in equal measure by many of his colleagues for his obsessive management style and white-anting of Julia Gillard.
Resurrected in the face of plummeting polls ahead of the election, Rudd led Labor to defeat, although not half as bad as many commentators predicted.
In his own electorate, he survived a strong challenge from Liberal candidate Bill Glasson. There will now have to be a by-election and in the absence of an exceptional Labor candidate, Glasson will likely be the next member for Griffith.
Under the new Rudd rules to democratise the Labor Party, the leadership was thrown open. Rudd stood aside.
As an opposition backbencher, there didn’t seem much to hold a former PM and foreign minister, especially considering Labor can expect a couple of terms in the wilderness.
Now Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek have clean air to lead Labor, without Rudd anywhere in the picture.